12 August, 2011

Mathilde and Chadwick

Edith Rockefeller McCormick's youngest daughter Mathilde had a very short life, which can perhaps account for why she started many things early. An international fuss was made about her marriage to Max Oser in 1923; Mathilde was 17 years old (they had waited), and Max 45. The marriage was a quiet one that played out in Switzerland and (according to the 1930 census) Montecito California. Regardless of the prattle Mathilde stuck to it - in the process having two children, Anita and Peter Max Oser.

Mathilde and Max visit John D. Rockefeller in the 1930's with their children.

In 1940 Mathilde purchased a home on 35 acres in Palos Verde California. Her children were enrolled in the Chadwick School, and perhaps Mathilde wanted a local residence in order to be close to them? The house was one of the original homes of The Palos Verdes Project, built as a “spec” house in 1927 by R.R.Sutherland. Mathilde embarked on a seven year project to renovate and restore the 10,000 square foot house and it's outbuildings.

Mathilde's Palos Verde home in 1927. (Architect: Kirtland Kelsey Cutter [1860-1939])

Unfortunately, on May 18th of 1947 Mathilde McCormick Oser died (at the age of 41) a few days after surgery. (Her husband Max had died at age 65 in 1942) Anita and Peter were both students at Pomona college at that point, and since they had graduated from the Chadwick School earlier, they gave the home to Commander and Mrs. Chadwick. The Chadwicks would live there for the rest of their lives. (Mrs. Chadwick died in 1984, having been predeceased by her husband.)

The house today.(A good article with pictures can be seen here.)

As all things do, life continued to move forward. Anita would be married that fall to Linus Pauling Jr., the son of the noted Dr. Linus Pauling who at the time was chairman of the chemistry division at California Institute of Technology. Her brother Peter Max Oser would die young himself, at the age of 43 in Switzerland in 1970. Anita would have an extraordinary life, which ended in Paris three years ago at the age of 84.

Many people are familiar with the Chadwick School as it is featured momentarily in the film Mommie Dearest as the episodic alma mater of Christina Crawford. As it was, at one time the lower level of Mathilde's Palos Verde home was used as a dormitory for the students; one of whom was Christina Crawford.


Anonymous said...

I live in Matilde's former home. The house next door was for Carl Jung! If the walls could speak.

Rommy said...

Dear Montecito: You are one lucky person. The house sounds so great. Is it still on such a big parcel? I assume it looks at the ocean? What an extraordinary town...

Do you know if Anita Oser married Linus Pauling there? I'm doing some genealogical research and one note said she got married in Pasadena? Todd, do you know? Oh, and some say Anita died in Paris and others say Detroit. Huh?